meta-scriptAlejandro Fernández Announces 2020 'Hecho En México' World Tour | GRAMMY.com
Alejandro Fernández

Alejandro Fernández performs at the 20th Latin GRAMMY Awards in 2019

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

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Alejandro Fernández Announces 2020 'Hecho En México' World Tour

The 28-date trek, which takes the revered ranchera singer across North America and Europe, is named after his forthcoming 2020 album

GRAMMYs/Feb 12, 2020 - 10:12 pm

Mexican rancheras star and Latin pop singer Alejandro Fernández has announced dates for his Hecho En México World Tour. The 28-date trek, which kicks off this May and runs through December, will take the revered singer across North America and Europe and will include his debut shows in Toronto, Canada, London and Paris.

The newly added global tour dates are an extension of the initial leg of the Hecho En México trek, which he announced last November and runs across his native Mexico for multiple dates starting this month. 

The tour is named after his forthcoming album, Hecho En México, Spanish for "Made In Mexico," which releases this Friday (Feb. 14). The album, which features collaborations with Christian Nodal, Luis Carlos Monroy, Jorge Massias and Chico Elizalde with production by Áureo Baqueiro, sees Fernández returning to his mariachi and ranchera roots.

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Alejandro Fernández is considered ranchera royalty. He is the son of ranchera icon Vicente Fernández, the latter of whom is widely known as El Rey De La Música Ranchera, or The King Of Ranchera Music, for his dominance in the traditional Mexican music genre. Alejandro is also the father of Alex Fernández, a rising ranchera singer. 

Last November, the Fernández clan stole the show at the 20th Latin GRAMMYs when the three of them performed live onstage together for the first time ever, delivering a moving performance spanning three generations of ranchera music and culture. 

Read: Alejandro Fernández Revealed

In 1997, Alejandro Fernández released his sixth album, Me Estoy Enamorando (I'm Falling In Love), which marked his departure from ranchera music and expansion into the wider Latin pop canon. The platinum-selling album topped the Latin Pop Albums and Top Latin Albums charts in the U.S. and received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Pop Performance. Fernández received his most recent GRAMMY nomination, for Best Mexican-American Performance, for his 1999 album, Mi Verdad. He has also won two Latin GRAMMY Awards.

Tickets for Fernández's 2020 Hecho En México World Tour go on sale Friday, Feb. 14, at 9 a.m. local time. For more information and for the full tour routing, visit his official website.

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Angélica Garcia's Intuition: How 'Gemelo' Was Born
Angélica Garcia

Photo: Shervin Lainez

interview

Angélica Garcia's Intuition: How 'Gemelo' Was Born By Embracing L.A., Ancestry & Spanish Language

When creating her new album, 'Gemelo,' Angélica Garcia relied on her "spirit self" for guidance. The Los Angeles native details how she arrived at her first Spanish-language release by following her intuition and embracing her family history.

GRAMMYs/Jun 13, 2024 - 01:05 pm

Early in the spring of 2020, Angélica Garcia felt like she was being called back home. The singer/songwriter had spent the last three years in Richmond, Virginia, but her roots were firmly planted in California.

She’d spent most of her life in El Monte — the city in the San Gabriel Valley just 20 20 minutes east of downtown L.A., where she was raised by her parents and grandparents. (Her mother, also named Angélica, was a singer who had grown up performing rancheras with her siblings at rodeos around L.A. and Mexico.) Angélica spent most of her childhood moving around the city, learning how to fit in each time she enrolled in a new school. At 17, she followed her parents across the country to Accomac, Virginia — a tiny rural town on the state’s eastern shore. 

"It was challenging, but I tried to always see the positive side of those experiences," she tells GRAMMY.com. "In some ways it was like traveling back in time to live there, but I also just thought, Wow, this is a whole different culture that I get to be a part of." 

After high school, she moved to Richmond and fell into the city’s indie scene, performing in several bands while recording and releasing her own solo music. Her semi-autobiographical track "Jícama" made it onto President Obama's 2019 year-end music list, giving her a boost of recognition just before she released her 2020 album, Cha Cha Palace. The album was a celebration of her Salvadoran-Mexican heritage, bursting at the seams with influences from across the Latin American diaspora, merging cumbia, ranchera, and reggaeton with psychedelic rock and pop.

Just before the pandemic, Garcia felt as if she "was being called to start over in L.A." With COVID-forced closures throughout the city, it wasn’t quite the return Garcia had hoped for. It did, however, present an opportunity for grounding and reconnection — not just with Garcia's hometown, but with roots, culture, and voice.

She turned inward, dredging up gnarled, complicated feelings about her identity. She’d started to find success writing music that she felt deeply connected to, but Garcia was also grappling with the realization that it was written in a language neither of her grandparents spoke. She turned to poetry, trying to work through her feelings of grief and disconnect. 

Slowly but surely, those words became the first inklings of Gemelo. Produced by Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arévalo, the 10-track album explores duality and belonging, following Garcia’s journey of acceptance from the ethereal musing of opener "Reflexiones," to the wild joy of closer "Paloma." 

Her first album sung almost entirely in Spanish, Gemelo is Garcia triumphing over her doubts, following her intuition into an otherworldly pop soundscape that transcends borders. 

Ahead of her upcoming tour dates opening for IDLES, Garcia spoke with GRAMMY.com about processing grief, writing in Spanish, and finding inspiration in her ancestors. 

This conversation has been condensed and edited.

What inspired your move back to California?

I loved living in Richmond, but I was having a really hard time towards the end. Moving kind of felt like something that I had to do. That was one of the difficult things that I was navigating around the time of writing Gemelo

The album touches on the concept of grief and loss, but also discovery. What was going on in your life as you were writing it?

The record feels like traveling through grief. In real life, I was processing some really difficult changes and adapting as a person. I felt like there was a version of me who was going through the motions and phasing in and out of grief. My body was there, but my mind was somewhere else. I felt like I was almost in a dissociative state. 

How does that sense of self you were grappling with tie into the album’s title, Gemelo?

It’s funny, it almost feels like the album revealed itself to me over time. I was maybe three or four songs in before I really started to see a through line between them. I wasn’t sure they were going to turn into an album, but they started to feel like part of a body of work. 

In the beginning, I think I kept noticing these themes of reflection, the idea of past lives, all these emotions that kept coming up. Later, I was searching and searching for a record title, and I kept seeing the word "twin." I hadn’t actually tried translating it into Spanish, but when I did, it was like a light bulb went off. I heard "gemelo," and everything made sense. 

What about the concept of twins were you drawn to?

I often felt like I had this intuition guiding me and helping me through some of these decisions, and helping to protect me. That, to me, is my gemelo. We have the version of ourselves that exists in the physical world, and then we have an intuitive self, a spirit self, that’s guiding us, even when our tangible self is too confused to really understand everything. 

Most of this album is in Spanish. What’s your relationship to the language? Did you grow up speaking it?

It’s always been a very core part of my childhood and my formative memories. Most of the people that I love speak Spanish. So even if I wasn’t always exercising it every day, anytime I spoke to the core people in my life — my grandparents, my mom, or my dad — I was always hearing Spanish. It’s also some of the first music that I learned how to sing, so it felt very natural to me to have it in my mouth and on my tongue. 

I just realized I’d never actually tried to express myself as a writer, creatively, in this language. I really wanted to honor that side of myself and my family lineage, and give it a shot. 

Would you say you express yourself differently in Spanish than in English?

I feel like maybe it was almost easier to write in Spanish. I’ve been a musician for so long that it can be really easy to be like, "Oh, this is how a song should go," or "I should have a chorus that sounds like this." In some ways, because I didn't have the same framework or rules with Spanish, I was leaning a lot on imagery and on concepts in a way that was a very fun and refreshing challenge. 

I think it brought out a little bit more of my philosophical side, because I didn't feel the same pressures that sometimes I feel when working on music in English. 

Did exploring that side of yourself also help you connect on a different level with your family and your roots?

I always felt a deep connection to my roots. It can be so easy to just get caught up in everyday life, so it's really fascinating when you look back, and you see the similarities between you. It really makes you wonder how much of it is nature and how much of it is nurture? And how many of these things I do were literally inherited, you know? 

How did that seep into your writing for this album?

It’s funny, before I moved back to California, a really good friend of mine in Richmond got really into looking up their ancestry. We would just dedicate time to researching our family histories, and things like that. It was nice to do it with a friend, because you had somebody to talk to about it. 

As I was learning, I was writing down the names of my relatives and putting them in a specific area in my room where I would meditate a lot. I would journal with the candles lit, and one day, I was sitting in front of that area and the song "Juanita" just poured out of me. The name came out so clearly. 

Some songs you labor over for months, or even years, and they might not come out. This one just poured out like it was raining from the sky. Later, I was sitting around a coffee table with my mom and my grandma, and she was like, "Oh, yeah, your great great grandma, Mama Juana. Juanita …" and I was just thinking, Wait, what? My grandma was telling me how Juana was this mystical woman, and I thought, Wow, she really wanted a song.

In addition to "Juanita," your songs really tap into the stories of strong women, feminine joy, and feminine anger. How have the women in your family influenced your music?

I love the perspective of the women in my family because there’s so much personality and resilience. They’re badass. My grandmother would tell me stories about being a little girl in El Salvador selling coffee, and her whole journey to work at the U.S. embassy, which is eventually how she got to the U.S. And my mother, being a child performing rodeos, told me stories about walking from one gig to another in Mexico with my grandpa because the van had broken down. 

Sometimes I feel like people like to focus on their material accomplishments, like money or degrees. But the story of my mom walking from a gig as a child in her rodeo outfit, or the fact that my grandmother went from selling coffee in the jungle in El Salvador to L.A.? That's an accomplishment. That's resilience. 

They’re full of these vibrant stories, because they had to navigate through so many trials. Because of them, I experienced a lot of love and magic, care, and nurturing. It’s unfortunate to me that those traits are sometimes seen as soft instead of strong, when it’s both. They redefined strength for me.

Gemelo’s final track, "Paloma," feels like such a triumphant celebration. What significance does that song have for you?

I wanted to end with gratitude. "Paloma" is a song about seeing the divine reflected in each other, in the people you love, and how, even when we're extremely critical of ourselves, we all hold the divine within us. We’re all walking this earth with the power to do incredible things. That outlook has really gotten me through so much in life. It can be so easy to get lost in the grief, but the light is what cuts through all of it for me. 

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Grupo Frontera Press Photo 2024
Grupo Frontera

Photo: Eric Rojas

interview

Grupo Frontera On 'Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada' & Fully Expressing Themselves: "This Album Was Made From The Heart"

With their second album, regional Mexican music stars Grupo Frontera aim to honor their roots while showing their wide-spanning musical interests. Hear from some of the group on the creation of the album and why it's so special to them.

GRAMMYs/May 16, 2024 - 08:12 pm

In just two years, Grupo Frontera have gone from playing weddings in their native Texas to joining Bad Bunny on stage at Coachella and performing on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." No matter how rapid their rise to fame has become, the Texas sextet has held the same ethos: celebrating their Mexican heritage while embracing the American culture they were born into.

Embracing that balance has helped them transcend cultural barriers with their modern take on regional Mexican music, which incorporates a wide range of musical styles. That holds true on Grupo Frontera's second album, Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada, out now. 

With bright accordion lines and a high-energy blend of urbano party anthems, cumbia-inspired ballads, and forays into pop, the album is a masterful display of the group's mixed cultural background. It retains the same Latin cowboy spirit of their first LP, 2023's El Comienzo — which had roots in the norteño genre, a traditional style originated in Northern Mexico — while tapping into the music they grew up listening to in the States, like hip-hop, corridos tumbados, and country music. 

While El Comienzo introduced Grupo Frontera as loyal traditionalists, Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada aims at speaking to younger generations. It's a fitting approach for the group, whose ages range from early twenties to early thirties across its six members — Alberto "Beto" Acosta, Juan Javier Cantú, Carlos Guerrero, Julian Peña Jr., Adelaido "Payo" Solis III, and Carlos Zamora — that also speaks to their evolution amid their whirlwind success. It's proof that they aren't afraid to create music that is completely true to them — and that's exactly what makes Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada special.

Below, Cantu, Guerrero, Peña, and Solis speak with GRAMMY.com about their cultural roots in South Texas and the making of Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada.

The last two years were a very prolific time for Grupo Frontera. What was it like to create Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada after everything that's happened to the group?

Adelaido "Payo" Solis: Last year we were working a lot, playing four or five concerts a week, and that didn't give us time to structure El Comienzo as well as we wanted to. Now we made time to record all these different types of songs. It was amazing to have time to work on the album cover and all the songs the way we wanted to, and have everything set in a certain way to represent the new album to its highest potential.

Between 2023 and this year, were you able to take any time off to work on this new record, or was it done in between touring?

Juan Javier Cantú: There were times when we were touring El Comienzo that we would record before the people got inside the theater. We would record onstage. We'd be like "Wait, don't let the people in — 20 more minutes, we have to finish this session!" That happened with our new songs "Quédate Bebé" and "Nunca La Olvidé."

Solis: It's a little bit of both because those were recorded live, but then two months ago, we locked ourselves in the house for a good four or five days, and out of that came, like, 15 more songs.

You mentioned that, for this new record, you had more time to work on the order of the songs. What's the general feeling behind this track list? Starting with "F—ing Amor."

Solis: The general feel of this album is literally the album's name, Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada [which loosely translates to "pretending everything is OK"]. Since we had more time to think about it, we tied many things to that name, to that phrase.

Everyone, at some point, has pretended everything is OK when in reality, it's not. You can see it in the album cover — the truck is on fire, but our character, who represents Grupo Frontera, is sitting in the car as if nothing is wrong. So the idea — and I know everyone experienced this — is that when you get in your truck, you can play our record and you can drop the act. You can stop pretending everything is alright. You can get in your feelings.

So the way it's structured, starting with "F—king Amor," is that you don't want to know anything about love, then in the middle, you have "Ya Pedo Quién Sabe," which says "maybe I miss you," and then by the end, "Quédate Bebe" [which translates to "Stay Baby"]. So it is a ride, an experience, which starts with you being hurt, or left behind by someone, and you being sad about it, then slowly wondering how is she doing, then saying "I miss you," and finally "stay with me."

Cantú: More than anything, we are playing with genres. In this record, you have our traditional cumbias, country music, and then songs like "Desquite." So that was also the goal, for people to know more about our music and the music we like.

Solis: Each member of Grupo Frontera listens and plays different styles, so starting from that, we each had a big say in the genres we wanted to play and styles we wanted to record on this album. 

More than anything, we were thinking of new generations. The Latinos of newer generations that don't speak Spanish, or don't get to come back often to Mexico or the countries where their parents are from. They don't want to hear just cumbia, so in our album, we want to make all these styles for them to find, in our songs, the genres that they like.

You mentioned that each of you has different styles and genres you brought to the new record. How did you work in the studio to generate these new sounds?

Solis: Grupo Frontera doesn't really use a lot of computer sounds, most of the music we play is through our instruments. We used to work on our songs starting from guitar and voice only, but now because we had more time to work on things, we each took a song and would listen to it for days. Then we'd meet again as a group and work on it in the studio: everyone's opinion counts, and no one's opinion takes precedence over the other. That's how, slowly, each new song took shape.

When you talked about the moment in which you get in your car or truck, and finally get to stop pretending everything is alright — does that car culture come from your upbringing in Texas?

Julián Peña: That culture is definitely from where we are from, from the Valley [the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which spans the border of Texas and Mexico], where there are a lot of troquitas tumbadas [lowered or customized pickup trucks]. You'd hear la Raza zooming by, blasting our songs, with the bass booming, from their trucks. So it's kind of like a relief, your safe space.

Like the album's title says, "pretending everything is fine"... you're pretending to be fine and then once you get in your car and you pass yourself the aux, you turn that up and you start bawling, or feeling whatever you're feeling. Then the album's over, gotta get back to work, clock back in, and go back to pretending everything's fine. It's like an escape that we know many people have, it has happened to all of us; you go on a drive to decompress, turn the music up, let it all out, and feel better. That's what we wanted to capture with that image.

What songs did you each play when you needed that kind of moment?

Cantú: When I broke up with a girlfriend, around 2012, my go-to was Drake.

Peña: Mine was "Then," by Brad Paisley. I was just sad and going through a country phase. [Laughs.]

Solis: I would listen a lot to a song by Eslabón Armado called "Atrapado."

Cantú: When I feel a little trapped by this street lifestyle I go, "I Should've Been A Cowboy"! [All laugh.]

I read some of you grew up raising cattle, or come from families of farmers and ranchers. What aspects of that lifestyle do you miss, in contrast with being in a city like LA, and actively involved in the music industry?

Solis: Juan had his ranch around General Bravo [a municipality in Mexico], and I was born in the States, but I would go every weekend to Mexico, to my parent's ranch, where they had cattle. I know Juan can relate to this — when you are at the ranch and play a song, and can sing out loud without anyone around listening or judging you, that's a really nice feeling. When you are on stage, in the industry, you're not singing only to yourself, but to make the audience's day better. So no matter what you're going through, when you're on stage, your job is to make people happy.

Cantú: Going to a place — like a ranch, an open space — to disconnect, it's like a reset. I feel a lot of people have not experienced that, they don't know the power that has.

Through your lyrics, you adapted old love songs and romance to modern times. Some songs even mention emojis, DMs and texting. Do you have any favorite emojis?

Solis: Oh man, I love the black heart emoji because it can mean many things. A dead heart, or that you're not feeling anything. It can mean your heart is broken and needs mending to go back to being red. I think it's super cool.

Carlos Guerrero: I like the thinking face emoji.

Cantú: Sometimes he uses it out of context and we don't know if he's thinking, or he's mad. [Laughs.] For me, the one I use the most is the "thanks" [praying hands emoji].

Peña: I like the heart hands emoji. Like "Hey what's up," and throw a heart hands emoji.

Going back to your music, what's your favorite part of making songs?

Solis: I'm not sure if we all have the same answer, but for me, my favorite part about being able to sing, record and write these songs is to sing them with all the feeling in the world. And that is amazing, to be able to let that out.

Cantú: The simple fact of creating something and getting to test it out, seeing people sing it, it's like, Wow, we made that.

Peña: Yeah, that you do something and then put that out there right and you're like, I wonder if this feeling is gonna get translated the way we want it to. And then, like Juan said, when people go to concerts, and sing it back to us, or we see people post stories of them singing it and going through it. It's like, we made that! We got that point across, and it feels good for all of us.

How do you navigate being an American band with a cross-cultural upbringing?

Cantú: It's really cool. We were lucky to go to Puerto Rico, Colombia and Argentina, to collaborate with artists like Arcángel, Maluma, Shakira, and Nicki Nicole. That helped us understand their culture and meditate on what it means to be Latino, not just Mexican. Latino identity entails so many cultures in one, and even Mexican identity is vast. Latinos are from everywhere.

How was it to collaborate with all these other artists, and open your group to collaborate with them in Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada?

Solis: Basically, we are like a group of brothers. We sometimes spend 24/7 together. We see each other every day, and we spend all our time together on the tour bus and at home, even when we don't need to see each other. So when we collaborate with other artists, like Morat, Maluma, or Nicky Nicole, they sense that vibe — we carry that with us. I feel that carries through, to the point where we can all have that vibe together.

When we are collaborating with other artists, it feels as if it was a friendship that has been around for a while. Like, have you ever felt or had that friendship where you can go like a month without seeing each other and when you see each other is like you had seen each other? That's basically how it is when we collab with other artists.

I know it's hard to pick a favorite song from the new album—

Solis: It's not that hard! My favorite is "F—ing Amor."

Why?

Solis: Because before Grupo Frontera started, that was more the style that I listened to. I got into the music of Natanael Cano, Iván Cornejo, and others. I grew up listening to old cumbia songs that my parents played for me, but in high school, I started listening to new stuff and new genres, so I think that's why my musical style is more versatile. So "F—ing Amor" is more Sierreño, has more bass, and the congas and percussion; the vibe of that song reminds me of how, in high school, I would drive my truck listening to Natanael Cano. 

Peña: Mine is "Echándote De Menos." Ever since we recorded it, it has that rhythm in the middle where we all drop, on that note… I like all of them, but that one, in particular. 

Cantú: I have to go with two. When I first listened to them, "Los Dos," our collaboration with Morat, and "Por Qué Será" with Maluma. That song, when they first showed it to me, I felt chills down my back.

Guerrero: Mine is "Los Dos," with Morat, because we liked Morat before being with Frontera.

Cantú: To make a song with them is an achievement for us because our big song ["No Se Va"] was a cover of theirs. So making a song together is pretty cool — not many people get to do that.

Solis: We had people tell us that we were stealing their song! We get that Morat is some people's favorite group but we were like, bro, it is our favorite too, that's why we did that song!

What is your dream for this new record?

Solis: We were talking about this yesterday in the van. We don't want to expect anything out of it — success, or big numbers — because this album was made from the heart. We are just so happy and proud to be releasing it into the world.

Guerrero: I just hope that people like it, because, as Payo says, we explored a lot of different genres, so we hope people dig that. We put our best into it.

Cantú: I want what Payo and Carlos said, but also, to go to Japan to play our songs.

Peña: I want what the three of them want, but for people to really connect and identify with the songs. Even if they connect with one or three, what I want for the album is that — to connect with people.

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Kenia Os performs in 2024
Kenia Os performs during the Axe Ceremonia music festival 2024 in Mexico

Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/LightRocket via Getty Images

interview

Kenia Os Unveils Her 'Pink Aura': How The Mexican Pop Star Let Her Feminine Energy Shine

On her new album, Kenia Os leaned into a variety of influences — from reggaeton Mexa to trap. The Latin GRAMMY nominee discusses collaborating with Álvaro Díaz, Villano Antillano and others, and letting her inner self shine.

GRAMMYs/Apr 29, 2024 - 05:31 pm

Contemporary music is filled with artists who have transitioned from social media stardom to serious streams and even Music's Biggest Night. Kenia Os is proof of this trajectory: After building a massive following on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, she established as one of Mexico's top pop stars. 

Kenia Os' ability to pivot successfully is also apparent in her music. Her 2022 debut album Cambios de Luna leaned into trap and reggaeton, while follow-up K23 fully embraced Latin pop with elements of EDM. Her "Universo K23" netted Kenia Os her first Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Long Form Music Video. 

On her latest album, Pink Aura, the 24-year-old seamlessly blends her worlds of Latin pop and urbano music. "I feel very comfortable making pop," Kenia Os tells GRAMMY.com.  I also love Latin urban music and reggaeton, especially reggaeton Mexa that's blowing up…I wanted to make music in that style as well." 

Pink Aura sees Kenia pushing pop into new territory — with the help of some friends. Puerto Rican singer Álvaro Díaz is featured on the futuristic, drum 'n' bass-infused "Bobo," while Puerto Rican trans rapper Villano Antillano appears on the euphoric "VIP." Argentina's La Joaqui helps Kenia Os meld reggaeton with cumbia on the freaky bop "Kitty." Reggaeton Mexa, or Mexican reggaeton, artists Yeri Mua and Ghetto Kids join Kenia for the sensual banger "Mamita Rica." Elsewhere, Os also links up with another influencer-turned-singer Bella Poarch for the fierce "F* OFF."

In an interview with GRAMMY.com, Kenia Os opens up about overcoming the stigma against artists coming from social media and the empowering meaning behind her Pink Aura album. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

How would you describe the experience of making the jump from YouTube and social media to becoming a pop star?

It's been incredible. It's been an adventure that I've been on for three or more years. 

At the start, and even now, it's still been a bit difficult to get respect from the music industry. Since day one when I started making music, I've always taken this very seriously, making great music with good producers and my record label. I feel very confident about this new album that we've put out and I feel fulfilled as an artist.  

As someone who did come from social media, what did your Latin GRAMMY nomination mean to you last year?

That day I cried all day. I couldn't believe it. I was very happy. It made me think about all the effort I’ve put in these past few years, and those times I was tired in the studio and thought about quitting. There were times I told myself, I don’t want to keep doing this because it’s very tiring to prove [to people] the artist that I am. I felt like everything was worth it. The hard work that me and my team have put into this over the years has been worth it.  

An artist that has a similar career trajectory to you concerning social media is Bella Poarch. I can imagine that you probably bonded well with her while collaborating on the song "F* OFF."

Working with Bella was an incredible experience. Sometimes when you do collaborations, there's artists that are very much artists. You know what I mean? They love music, but they don't know a lot about navigating social media or what works in that space. 

With Bella, what happened was that we could record TikTok videos and create content for social media. It was very natural and genuine. We shared ideas with each other like, "We'll make TikTok videos this way or you go here and I go there." [Laughs.] It was very genuine how we developed the content for marketing our collaboration. It was very beautiful. It's a very different experience to work with someone who also understands social media.

Tell me about the title of this new album — is there a story behind it?

My fans have asked me, "Kenia, why do you have everything pink? You have said before that you hated the color pink." It's not that I hated pink, but I had always said I didn't want pink in the background of my interviews, in my outfits, or anything. 

The other day I was with my mom, looking at photos from when I was a little girl, and I saw everything in my room was pink. I was thinking about when I started fighting this color. I realized I started to hold back that feminine energy to be able to face the industry, to be the person in charge of my family, and keep up that livelihood. For me, this album was forgiving that feminine energy, embracing it, and healing myself, and above all, letting it shine. 

You’re bridging the gap between Latin urban sounds and pure Latin pop on this album. Was that what you hoped to accomplish with that kind of fusion?

I feel very comfortable making pop. I love pop and it's the genre I enjoy the most. Every time I'm in the studio, I'm writing with my co-writers and producers, and we always make pop. 

I also love Latin urban music and reggaeton, especially reggaeton Mexa that's blowing up. We have artists in that scene who are becoming very big. I feel very proud and I wanted to make music in that style as well because I like going to the clubs and I like to hear myself within that genre. 

You collaborated with one of the top female artists in reggaeton Mexa, Yeri Mua, in "Mamita Rica." How would you describe the experience of working with her?

That was very beautiful. We went to the studio together and there was her whole team. There were her co-writers. 

We were all surprised because you would think that she puts effects on her voice, but no, that's how she really sounds. As we say, she sounds very sexy and makes noises like meowing. [Laughs]. It was very fun! It felt very great to work with her. 

All the reggaeton Mexa that's coming up in Mexico makes me so happy. I believe it was time with Mexico making more noise globally through música mexicana, reggaeton, and pop, and above all, with a sound that's very unique to us. 

You’ve always supported the LGBTQIA+ community throughout your career. On this album, you collaborated with Villano Antillano, who is breaking down barriers for queer artists in Latin music. How did the song "VIP" with Antillano come together?

It's very beautiful to know that I have a lot of fans in the LGBTQIA+ community and that they identify with my music and feel supported by me. It's very important for me to be someone who can speak up for them; it's important for me to support them as well and spread their message through my music, what I say, and with what I do. I stand with them and I'll support them in any way that I can.

Villana is one of my favorite artists. I love everything that she does. When she jumped on this track and we heard it, I almost wanted to cry. The song was perfect for her. When I met her, it was incredible because we connected a lot as friends. We were laughing the whole time while making the music video. We have the same ways of saying things. I love her so much. I loved getting to know her and I got a great friendship out of this collaboration.  

What do you want people to take away from the 'Pink Aura'?

I was telling my girlfriends the other day that this album is perfect for when you're getting ready [for a night out]. When you're in your room getting ready and putting on creams, perfume, and makeup. Then you have a little drink before going out to party. 

This was made so people can enjoy it and connect with it in their room, in their cars, and in the clubs. It was made with a lot of love and the most pink side of myself and feminine energy that I hope resonates with girls and boys too. I want to heal that part of us that we sometimes hide or put to the side in order to face certain situations in life. 

What do you want to accomplish next with your music?

I want to go global. I love my country and I love that my concerts in Mexico are always very full. The people of Mexico love me a lot, but I want to take my music to other countries. I want to be an artist that is internationally known. 

I love pop and I see myself doing pop all my life, but I want to experiment with more genres. I would love to do another reggaeton song and then a corrido tumbado song with guitars. Above all, I want to hold the flag of my country high up wherever I go.

10 Women Artists Leading A Latin Pop Revolution: Kenia Os, Belinda & More

Danna Paola
Danna Paola

Photo: Rafael Arroyo

interview

How Danna Paola Created 'CHILDSTAR' By Deconstructing Herself

"'CHILDSTAR' is the first album in my entire career where every inch, detail, and decision are curated and made by me," Danna Paola tells GRAMMY.com. "I made an album for myself and that little Danna who has always wanted to do this."

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 12:00 am

Danna Paola feels comfortable coexisting with her shadows. 

The Mexican singer, model and actress first appeared on television at age five, and has spent recent years dwelling on memories of her youth. Now 28, Danna is dismantling the myths and taboos around her artistic persona.

This process resulted in CHILDSTAR, which arrives April 11. Danna's seventh LP is her most authentic production and one where she makes peace with her childhood.

Accomplishing this freedom took her two years of therapy, the singer confesses to GRAMMY.com. "I deconstructed myself and my beliefs and unlearned many things to learn new ones. The pandemic also opened Pandora's box. That's where everything came out."

Through that self-discovery process, Danna knew she had to break with a constant that had accompanied her for two decades: acting. The last character she portrayed was Lucrecia in the Netflix series "Elite," a popular role that led her to reignite her music career after an eight-year hiatus. Beginning to live authentically, without the vices that fictional characters can leave behind, was the crucial step that led the Latin GRAMMY-nominated singer to CHILDSTAR.

CHILDSTAR follows a lengthy depression and a break from her management team, which Danna has described as controlling. On the new album, she embraces indulgence — singing about female pleasure for the first time in her career — and draws inspiration from her after-hour encounters. CHILDSTAR's darkly powerful electronic rhythms and synth-pop, tell a tale about a weekend of partying, alcohol, and sex to create the perfect escape from "your demons, your life, and your reality." 

Ahead of her album release, Danna Paola discussed the processes that led her to break with her past, how her boyfriend was instrumental to her return to the studio, the synthesizer that inspired the album's sound, and the gift that Omar Apollo left for her. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me about the process that led you to co-produce for the first time.

This album is made with a lot of love, many hours, but above all, a lot of freedom. It's a very energetic and aggressive album, liberating.

It was a journey of introspection, empowerment, and self-confidence. Beyond being a sad story, the complete meaning of the album is not to talk and throw shade at my childhood. [It's about what] I have discovered since that first therapy session to find and make peace with my past, and that instead of being a place of embarrassment for me, it empowered me.

CHILDSTAR is the first album in my entire career where every inch, detail, and decision are curated and made by me. That's something that I am very proud of. I made an album for myself and that little Danna who has always wanted to do this. 

It is energetic, super intense, and sexual. Electronic music, funk, dance, synth-pop, and R&B lead me to drain all these emotions. The choice of each song, and the details and creating them from start to finish, [has] been very cathartic.

In "The Fall," you sing, "You don't know me, you don't know s–– about me. I'm not a shooting star." Was it painful to relive the memories of being a child star?

Yes. I grew up in 2000s television. Back then, creating a child's image came from a lot of machismo: being the perfect girl, the girl who doesn't speak badly, the girl who smiles for everything, and whose characters are all good. She can't do bed scenes, can't talk about sex. 

With this project, I embrace that [version of] Danna. I told that girl that everything would be fine. It's OK if you make mistakes, and it is OK to fall in love. Falling in love terrified me because I've been on different projects… every six or eight months; the longest a project lasted for me was a year. I made relationships with people and friends, [but] people always left my life. I built a pretty lonely life; I almost did not spend time with my family. I poured my life into work.

I had this distortion of reality where Danna Paola was the superheroine, and I forgot who Danna was. That's why I stopped acting; creating characters and being in someone else's skin was moving me further and further away from discovering myself as a human being in the ordinary course of life, of creating myself based on situations, emotions, and relationships. 

In therapy, of course, I understood that. I made peace, and today, I am discovering many beautiful things about myself as a child that were precious, happy, and full of love. Of course, I don't blame my parents because they did their best. Nobody teaches you how to be a child star from age five.

The album led you to shine a light on your darkest sides. What did you discover about yourself and Danna as a person and artist?

I was terrified to take risks, to speak, or to create. [To me] creating a project takes a long time, at least with music. I discovered that, for me, [making music] is a spiritual act. It is an everyday practice. It is to continue to discover and continue to learn. It's falling in love again with my profession and giving the industry another chance.

I also learned that our capacity for reinvention is infinite so we can start over. Today, I also begin to be a little more human. However, I don't aspire to be an example for anyone. I want to share my experiences and the lessons I have learned so I can move forward, continue to love what I do, and not lose myself. I used to say that I wouldn't make it to 27. That was in my head.

I'm making a wonderful balance between my personal life and my work. I'm also building my family at home with my boyfriend [artist Alex Hoyer], my two little dogs, my friends, and my chosen family. It's making peace and creating the life of my dreams.

Do you like who you are now?

I love it. I continue to polish many things about my personality. I work hard to be a better human being. Life is about learning and transforming yourself. I can release another album in a couple of years; I may release another this year. I don’t want to stop making music. [I want to] continue transforming myself through my art. 

In the first two tracks, "The Fall" and "Blackout," you repeat that people don't know you. How would you describe the Danna of this record? 

She's a woman who is very sure of who she is, and nobody has given anything to me. I'm in love with my project, my music, and my life, and I'm enjoying it a lot.

I struggle a lot with fame, but today, I present myself as a liberated woman in a good headspace. I don't pretend to be perfect or an example for anyone. Quite the opposite; all I do is share experiences, lessons, and music.

I'm an artist in every sense of the word. I'm a creative, honest person and have a lot of love to give, and I love receiving it, too. That should be mutual. It's an energetic practice that when one really does things with love, the universe always rewards it.

In songs like "Atari" and "Platonik," you openly sing about female sexual pleasure. Is it the first time in your career that you sing about your sexuality? 

Yes. This album is very sexual. There's a taboo when it comes to women talking about sex. In reggaeton, there are thousands of ways in which we can talk about sexuality. In my case, I had always considered it forbidden. 

It's what I told you about the kid [actress] who doesn't [about sex], who's a virgin until marriage. There is no richer pleasure than sex and the sexual pleasure you can have as a woman. There's liberation, to feel good about yourself, with your body, and also the sexual education that I can also share with generations.

This liberation with my femininity is something that I also discovered: The pleasure of being a woman and having many experiences in my life that have led me today to enjoy who I am, to have a happy sex life, and to share it through my music.

In "Platonik," you discuss sexualizing a platonic relationship with a woman and sing "I can't help what I think in my bed." Why was exploring that relationship important to you?

I had a platonic love with a girl at a stage of my life. I kept this to myself; it was a personal experience that opened the conversation to a beautiful story.

I wrote this song with [producer and songwriter] Manu Lara. We made it in half an hour. This song has something unique because, besides talking about a personal experience that is also super sexual, it talks about universal love.

That's why I say that CHILDSTAR is an album of many stories that have marked my life and beyond, talking about only the childhood stage, which is what everyone speculates, but that's not the case.

You’re flirting more with synth-pop in this album. What caught your attention about this genre?

It comes from this aggressive part of saying, here I am. For me, electronic music connects and drains emotions. Every time I've been out partying, electronic music has been liberating for me, and when I put it together with pop and these lyrics, it has become a new way to enjoy the genre.

While creating CHILDSTAR in Los Angeles, I fell in love with a Jupiter [synth] we found at Guitar Center. That synthesizer is in every song. The inspiration [to use the instrument] comes from John Carpenter's synth album [Lost Themes III: Alive After Death]. In it, I discovered synthesizers had a way of incorporating sound design and darkness into the album. 

[Synth-pop is] the expression of that need to bring out the energy I had stuck through music. It’s an emotional purpose, the connection I have with electronic music.

Your boyfriend, Alex, was instrumental in making "XT4S1S" when you didn’t want to enter a recording studio. How was reconnecting with music with help from your romantic partner?

"XT4S1S" is the song that, to both of us, as a couple and as producers, connected us on a hefty level.

I was super blocked. It took me several years to get out of my depression hole. We returned one day from [La Marquesa park] here in Mexico, and started chatting. Alex opened his laptop and started pulling out a beat.

I started throwing melodies, and [shortly] we had the chorus. It brought me back to life. I started crying with excitement because I finally felt again these desires and this emotion that you feel when you create a song, and you can’t stop moving forward and keep creating.

I remember we recorded my vocals on a voice note and sent it to [the production software] Logic. Then, it took us four months to produce this song because it was a lot of discovery, in this case, for me as a producer.

Alex is a great musician, artist, a genius — and I don’t say that because he’s my boyfriend. Artistically, there’s a fascinating world inside his head that I have learned a lot from. 

The track "Amanecer," which features Omar Apollo, breaks dramatically with the story you tell in the album. Why did you end that party cycle with a more folksy, chill song?

"Amanecer" is a track that has us all in love. It was the last song I recorded for the album. 

I wrote it to my ex. On my birthday, he called me — I was already with Alex — and it was super weird. I always feared running into him on the street, seeing him with someone else, and feeling something. And it was the exact opposite. I had already healed internally, and that wound had stopped hurting. I stopped feeling all the emotions I had gone through in K.O., [the album nominated for Best Vocal Pop Album at the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs].

This song talks about knowing how to make peace and understanding how to let go. It’s the dawn of the album. It’s perfect to release all the drama, and all the intensity, and aggressiveness that is the entire album itself.

[The song invites you] to hug yourself and say everything will be fine. There is always an opportunity to start over. 

It also has a beautiful story. Manu [Lara] taught Omar Apollo the instrumental parts of the song, and he made some melodies. At the moment of receiving them, [Omar] agreed we would make a song together, [but] it was almost impossible to record together.

[Instead, Omar] told me "You can use the melodies I made" and left me the last part of "Amanecer." He left us with that magical essence.

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